attachment- whole topic notes

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  • Created on: 21-04-14 17:03
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`A close emotional relationship between 2 person, characterised by mutual affection and a desire to
maintain proximity [closeness]' ­ Schaffer
Attachment theory studies importance of early relationships between infant and primary caregiver:
Explanation of attachment- Learning Theory:
Attachment is learned through operant and classical conditioning.
Classical conditioning infant learns to associate primary caregiver with food (associated with comfort and
warmth). Associating caregiver with food- overtime caregiver becomes source of pleasure, irrespective
whether food is present.
Operant conditioning-reinforcement produces an attachment. Infant attaches as when infant hungry
caregiver will respond so become positive reinforcer. Explains mother's attachment as child responds by
smiling-positively reinforces mother's care.
Provides a valuable insight- how infant attaches to primary caregiver.
Provides a testable way of explaining attachment- based on studying observable and testable behaviour so
prediction of theory can be accessed to assess validity.
Oversimplified- attachment too complex be explained through reinforcement and association with food,
other factors e.g. genetics.
Bowlbys explanation of attachment:
Based on evolutionary principles and argues humans are genetically motivated to develop attachment to
maternal figure. Humans are altrical species (helpless at birth) so need attachment to increase survival
chances. Social releasers such as smiling elicit care-giving behaviours from mother figure.
Monotropy bond means infant bonds with special caregiver and is first to develop and acts as ground-base
for future relationships- Internal Working Model. Attachment has critical period of 6months- 3 years old, if
fails outcomes are irreversible.
Theory has practical applications- hospital policies allow parents to have contact with child from birth
Provides valuable insight- into how an infant attaches to its main caregiver with importance of this early
Critics argue idea of critical period is not supported by evidence- suggestion of sensitive period where
attachment more likely to form= even isolated children can form attachment with caregiver after critical

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Types of Attachment: Secure Attachment, Insecure-Avoidant & Insecure-Resistant
Mary Ainsworth- observations of babies in Uganda and USA:
Secure children cries infrequently-happiest with mothers as offered safe-base to explore
Insecure infants cried frequently-craved attention, not upset about being alone& not respond to
mothers return.…read more

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Types of Attachment & use of Strange Situation
Ainsworth & Bell: study individual differences in attachment types and how secure with primary
caregiver, controlled observation in lab using Strange Situation aged between 12-18 months. Found
clear individual differences in attachment types, 70% were secure and 20% insecure avoidant, 10%
insecure resistant. Securely attached were warm, supportive and gave emotional needs- essential
for emotional and social development.…read more

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Due to factors including short term effects of temporary separation from primary caregiver or
long-term such as repeated or prolonged separation. Referred to deprivation and characterised
when bond broken.…read more

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Research evidence- Bowlby 44 juvenile thieves
Compared early lives of 44 juvenile thieves and 44 adolescences experiencing emotional problems in
clinic, 32% thieves diagnosed affectionless psychopaths; 86% of them experienced prolonged
separation from mothers in first 3 years. No adolescences affectionless psychopaths so deprivation
produces long-lasting irreversible effects.
! Clear evidence prolonged periods of disruption to attachment relationship can lead to long-term
negative consequences, supported by research so findings have good face validity.…read more

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IQ significantly improved and social development
better than control group remaining in orphanage, demonstrated negative intellectual and social
effects children institutionalised in orphanages could be reversed by fostering.…read more

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Positive effects-
Shea: children spent more time in day-care = more sociable and less aggressive, reduction in
difference from closest child and bigger in closest teacher (proximity) , lowest aggression = 5 days
compared to 2 days in care.
Negative effects-
NICHD: age 5, children spent more hours in a day care between 3 and half- 4 were more likely to be
aggressive, children rated by teachers as more obedient, aggressive and less likely to get on with
others compared to child minder.…read more


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